The Guardian view on Xi Jinping’s China: rectification, not revolution | Editorial
A wide-ranging crackdown and leftist rhetoric have stirred fears of a return to the apogee of Maoism
Fifty-five years ago, China was in turmoil. Mao had launched the Cultural Revolution to eradicate opposition in the party and cleanse the country’s political soul, using the power of the masses. It would last a decade and claim well over a million lives; 36 million people were hounded, including Xi Jinping’s father, who had previously been a senior leader. The current president was himself denounced and spent years living in bleak rural poverty.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Xi has spoken scathingly of the Cultural Revolution in the past. Yet many now see growing echoes of the era. The Communist elders who survived the disaster sought to cage the power of the leader through consensus and new conventions. Under those, Mr Xi would be expected to step down as general secretary of the party – the role that gives him real power – next autumn, after 10 years. But putative successors have been sidelined or ousted, and dismantling term limits for the presidency, his other position, was a clear sign he plans to continue. The overt hostility to foreign influences is growing. A personality cult is flourishing; new textbooks on Xi Jinping Thought tell young schoolchildren that “Grandpa Xi Jinping has always cared for us … ”